We get this question so often that we need to make sure we give a very simple and straightforward answer. Here it is: If you have sexual thoughts/fantasies about a girl or guy you are not married to, then you have crossed over into the sin of lust. Lust is the impetus of masturbation. Lust is the reason why porn exists—to satisfy lustful desires.
Lust is NOT simply sexual desire. That is a common misconception, especially among teens brought up in conservative Christian homes. Sex is not evil, guys! Sexual desire is perfectly fine in the context of a marriage. In fact, God encourages sex in marriage! Sex is an act created by God for a husband and wife to enjoy together. Did you know that it is actually a biblical command that married couples should have sex regularly? Totally check out 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.
Sex within the context of a marriage is a beautiful, godly, selfless giving of one's self to another. It's an act of love and trust. It's a way to show vulnerability to your husband or wife. Feeling sexual attraction to your spouse is not lust—it is love.
"For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own." —Job 31:11-12 (NLT)
In the dictionary, lust is defined as an "intense or unrestrained sexual craving" or "an overwhelming desire or craving." Lust is motivated by selfishness—not love. A man would not "lust" after his wife. Any sex outside of marriage (in any form, even masturbation) is considered a sin because of the lustful thoughts that come along with it.
Lustful thoughts seek only to please ourselves. Lustful actions fulfill those desires without caring who or what could be hurt by those actions. Lust does not look at consequences; it only looks at what and how much it can have NOW.
Lust is basically adultery. Adultery is when a married person has sex with someone other than their spouse, and it was forbidden in the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:14). But Jesus took it one step further when He said, "I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).
Pornography addiction is much more common than you think, and once you start, it is extremely difficult to stop. The addiction cycle is a lonely, regretful place to be. It may bring delight and sexual gratification in the moment, but the long-lasting pain and shame that follows is definitely not worth a few minutes of pleasure.
As Christians, we are called to be selfless and holy (Romans 6:19, 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30, 6:19-20; Ephesians 1:4, 4:24; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). If we are entertaining lustful thoughts, indulging in our selfishness privately, you can see how it would be nearly impossible to live that kind of life publicly.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." —Hebrews 12:1-2
That is absolutely awesome. Continue to keep your mind and body pure, and do not allow temptations to pull you under. Live your life in a manner worthy of Christ's sacrifice for you (Philippians 1:27). Have grace, forgiveness, and understanding for those around you and do not be quick to judge, because overcoming this obstacle is harder than you think (Colossians 3:12-14; Ephesians 4:29-32).
Do not be discouraged. Yes, it's hard to resist it, but don't give up. No one is perfect, and we all still sin every single day. But God has called us to be holy and pure, and to reject that calling is to reject God Himself and defile the Holy Spirit that lives inside you (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 6:19). Don't give up.
You may stumble sometimes, but what counts is that you get up again and repent from your actions (2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 John 1:19). Don't allow lust to rule your thoughts and actions. In Christ, you have the freedom and the strength to fight and overcome anything (Philippians 4:13). Do NOT give up.
If you are struggling with pornography addiction, please check out XXXChurch for Students. They have some really great resources to help you!
Lust is basically adultery, which is when a married person has sex with someone other than their spouse (Exodus 20:14). But Jesus took it one step further: "I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Lust is not the same as sexual desire. Sexual desire is a natural thing that we often don't have control over. However, we DO have control over what we do with those desires. As Christians, we are called to be holy and selfless, but if we are entertaining lustful thoughts, indulging in our selfishness privately, it would be nearly impossible to live that kind of life publicly.
Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org and loves to write novellas with local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, five socially awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.